Native oaks may be the most important tree to the state from a wildlife standpoint. So you start figuring out how to educate people about planting oak trees. The reason oak trees are so important is they feed five hundred different types of caterpillars, way more than any other tree. So, if one cares about birds, butterflies and moths then you should care about oak trees. Why birds? Birds don't eat oak leaves, but what birds eat are the caterpillars. 90% of the diet for a fledgling bird in the east coast, is caterpillars. Also, the significance for Georgia is that we have 33 different native species. Only Texas and California have more oak species than Georgia but they are two to three times larger than Georgia. So the oak is a really important tree, a really important tree for people to have in their yard and they have many choices. Trees Atlanta has 28 of the 33 oaks planted on this particular hill and the sculpture of a leaf represents each one of those. If we support wildlife we have to support its habitat. And that's the principle reason why species go extinct - their habitat disappears and they are basically forced out or eliminated.
When you are making a selection for your yard like turf grass, perennials, or shrubs, that is a short term investment but when you're picking out trees that is looking forward 50 - 100 years and you'll have a tree that actually supports more than just you and your own yard, it supports all living things. It's really a great thing to do, so think about about planting some native species that do more than provide beauty and clean the air. And, now you have one more reason to pick an oak.
By Tim Wood, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs
People are becoming more aware of the threat of invasive species that can alter our native ecosystems. Because of that scientists, horticulturists, farmers and gardeners are working to produce well-behaved, environmentally friendly plants that are not invasive threats like their parents. For an interesting article by Tim Wood.
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